The Large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.
NAIROBI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The large-scale adoption of hybrid rice, which has proved effective in withstanding climatic stresses, pests and diseases, is paramount to tackling Africa's hunger and malnutrition crisis, scientists have said.
Emmanuel Okogbenin, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) director for program development and commercialization, noted that the introduction of improved rice varieties will boost food security and tackle rural poverty in the continent.
"We are encouraging farmers to adopt hybrid rice that is adaptable to different ecologies and whose yield levels are high, which is key to food security and improved incomes for rural communities," Okogbenin said.
The file photo shows farmers raising hybrid rice seedlings in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)
He spoke during a tour of the Mwea irrigation scheme in central Kenya, where AATF has facilitated the introduction of hybrid rice to test its resilience in the face of extreme weather events, invasive pests, and diseases.
According to Okogbenin, hybrid rice introduced in central Kenya has registered a doubling of yields at the small-holder level besides boosting the socioeconomic status of farmers.
He stressed that the unfolding climate crisis in Africa, coupled with the spread of voracious pests, diseases, and loss of soil fertility, calls for a shift from conventional to improved rice varieties.
The file photo shows a farmer pollinating in a hybrid rice field in Kihanga, Bubanza Province, Burundi, on Oct. 29, 2022. (Xinhua/Dong Jianghui)
Sheila Ochugboju, executive director of the Alliance for Science, called upon African governments, research institutions, and industry to facilitate the deployment of improved rice varieties to small-holder farmers as part of climate adaptation in the agriculture sector.
Ochugboju added that extension services in Africa should be revamped to help farmers access information, improved seeds, fertilizer, and modern post-harvest storage facilities.
She noted that hybrid rice is not only climate smart but is also rich in nutrients and ideal for tackling growing micronutrient deficiency among children in the continent.
Ochugboju said friendly policies and regulations, farmers' training, and investments in modern storage facilities will be key to spurring greater adoption of hybrid rice in Africa.
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